Gloria Stoll Karn – RIP

Pulp cover artist and illustrator Gloria Stoll Karn has passed away.

Gloria Marie Stoll Karn
November 13, 1923 – July 23, 2022 

From the obituary:

Gloria Stoll Karn, 98, transitioned to life eternal, at her own home, surrounded by loved ones, on Saturday, July 23, 2022. Born in New York City, the only child of Charles and Anne Finamore Stoll, Gloria studied at the High School of Music and Art and the Art Students’ League. She began a celebrated career as an illustrator of pulp magazines at the age of 17, becoming one of the few women to succeed in a male dominated field.


From Gloria’s Field Guide to Wild American Pulp Artists entry:

In 1936 she was among the first students to attend LaGaurdia High School of Music & Art.

In 1940 after high school graduation she was awarded a scholarship to the Display Institute, but quit after a few disappointing months of labor.

One fateful day in April of 1941 she impulsively threw away all of her student artwork. The janitor rescued her portfolio from the incinerator room and showed it to another tenant in the building who happened to be the pulp artist, Rafael DeSoto. DeSoto asked to meet the discouraged seventeen-year-old art student, and inspired her to become a commerical illustrator.

With DeSoto’s introduction she sold her first freelance story illustration to a Popular Publication pulp magazine. From 1941 to 1949 she sold story illustrations and cover paintings to All-Story Love, Detective Tales, Dime Mystery, Love Novels, Love Short Stories, New Love, Rangeland Romances, and Romance Western.


From the Norman Rockwell Museum:

Celebrated for her artistic contributions to the pulp fiction industry during the 1940s, Gloria Stoll Karn (b. 1923) was one of just a few female illustrators working to create a steady stream of tantalizing images for the covers for popular romance and dime store magazines.

From 1941 to 1949, Stoll-Karn’s illustrations were highly sought after by Popular Publications, one of the largest publishers of pulp magazines, and her work appeared regularly in Black Mask, Dime Mystery, Detective Tales, New Detective, All-Story Love, New Love, Love Book, Love Short Stories, Love Novels, Romance, and Thrilling Love, as well Argosy.


From Illustration History:

Boy meets girl themes envisioned with a touch of humor were Stoll Karn’s specialty, and the most popular scenarios in pulp magazines. Steamy portrayals of couples in embrace, gallant soldiers and cowboys, and hardboiled detectives and scoundrels—male and female—kept the artist and her readers consistently entertained. To stand out on the newsstand, Stoll Karn’s images were colorful and clearly delineated, with idyllic, animated figures dominating the picture plane. “I love to do hands and I love to paint hair—those are the two things I like to do best,” said the artist, who appreciated their expressive potential.


The Pulp Covers website entries of pulp covers tagged Gloria Stoll Karn.

The Gloria Stoll Karn website has a great collection of her pulp magazine art.


4 thoughts on “Gloria Stoll Karn – RIP

  1. Is there a full list of pulps Stoll illustrated? I’ve often wondered whether some Crack Detective covers were hers, too.

  2. Met her iwice, once at Pulpfest and once at the Norman Rockwell Museum when she had a show there. She was a wonderful lady and one of the few people still alive who knew the pulp greats.

  3. Don’t think there’s a comprehensive list, but there are lots of interviews with her, online images and posts. Main things seem to be covers for Rangeland Romances; Dime Mystery Magazine and Black Mask.

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